It’s been a long time since I’ve actually raced hence it’s been a long time since my last race report. Last season ended on a sour note with an injury the day before Buffalo Springs Half Ironman (yep, I said the day before the race) and then losing my job in late September. Not exactly the way you want to go out in 2012 but as the old saying goes, “It is what it is”. So, onward and upward into 2013. My first race in almost eight months happened two (2) weeks earlier in New Orleans. It wasn’t a bad effort down in NOLA but it certainly wasn’t a great one. Ended up in the top 50 overall and second in the 45-49 age group. More importantly I earned my slot for WTC 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada. Really looking forward to getting back to that race and exacting some revenge based on my last performance there! My time was, for me, a pedestrian 4:27:35. Decent swim, terrible bike and a salvageable run. I’ll concentrate on racing Half Ironmans in the second half of this season.
The race in Knoxville, Tennessee was, in one word, wet! I drove over on Friday with a friend of mine, David Callahan, to take part in the fund-raiser for Nicole and Michael Gross and Erika Brannock. All three (3) of these individuals were injured during the Boston Marathon bombing. Nicole Gross was a former UT swimmer. Now, as all of you know, I am no fan of the University of Tennessee. But, I will put my differences aside to aid one of my fallen swimming/triathlon friends in a heartbeat. The fund-raiser was a 5k run with all proceeds going to the family to help with their mounting medical expenses. I believe I heard after the event that $25,000.00 was raised. If you’re interested in helping the family out you can do so at http://www.bestrongstaystrong.net/.
Now, of course, the weather on Friday was absolutely beautiful! Nice and sunny with the temps a bit cooler than normal but certainly not cold. That would all change over the next 24 hours. By race day a cold front had moved in and brought with it cooler temperatures and a lot, and I mean a lot, of rain. Race day saw temps in the low 50′s, a steady rain and not even a hint of sunshine. Fun! Fun! Fun! To add insult in injury the river we’d be swimming in was hovering between 57-59 degrees. As Tallahassee(Woody Harrelson) would so often say in ZombieLand, “Time to Nut Up or Shut Up”.
For me the race was all about getting to the finish line as fast as I could without incident. There would be no chances taken on the bike today. The bike course at REV3 Knoxville is a legitimate course. Lots and lots of climbs with either sharp left or right turns at the bottom of hills. Add to that a couple of off- camber turns at the end of long hills and, if you weren’t paying attention, your day would be cut short. So, keeping the “rubber side down” on the bike was paramount for me on race day. I wasn’t going to risk my entire season on one Olympic Distance race in early May.
So, how did my race play out? Well, I had a cold and uneventful swim. 16:45 for a 1.5k swim that saw the major part of it swimming with the current of the river. I wore my neoprene cap under my swim cap so I didn’t really feel cold in the water. Well, let me rephrase that, because of my awesome Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit and my neoprene cap my body and head weren’t cold. My face, hands and feet were frozen. Which made the long run into T1 very interesting. Not being able to feel your feet running to T1 felt like I had two (2) porkchops tied to the bottom of my feet. Reached my rack, threw on my Bell helmet (thankfully with a visor in front), grabbed my bike and away I went. I was able to get my feet into my shoes after the dismount line fairly easily when riding my bike. I was pretty happy with this as I hadn’t done it in quite some time.
The bike ride for me was also (and thankfully) uneventful. Trust me when I say I rode like an “old lady”. My QR CD0.1 was loaded up for speed but I wasn’t turning it loose. For the first time this season I was rocking the new Shimano C75′s. I can’t really give you a great synopsis of how the wheels fared because riding like an “old lady” wouldn’t allow me to give a fair representation of how they did. I’m sure they were but I just couldn’t tell. Throughout the entire bike I was very cautious. People were flying by me on the downhills but I’d catch back up to them on the straight-aways and the climbs. Again, I concentrated more on not going down than going fast. I know, I know, that’s a rather wimpy way to ride but I’m getting old and evidently soft in my old age. Overall bike time was a smoking 1:05:11 for a blazing average speed of 22.2 mph. But, more importantly I didn’t go down. Which is more than I can say for a lot of the other riders on the course. Total carnage! During the latter part of the bike I could feel both my arms and legs locking up because of the cold temps. At one point in time on the bike I was shivering enough to make a pretty good martini (shaken, not stirred) for James Bond. I was also starting to yawn like there was no tomorrow so I knew I was probably in the initial stages of hypothermia. I couldn’t wait to get off the bike. Well, that was until I got off the bike. Here’s a pic of me heading out on the bike. Notice that awesome position! :-)
Coming back into T2 I jumped off my bike, dropped my bike because I was so cold, picked up my bike and then lumbered to where my rack was. For the next 30-45 seconds I fumbled with getting my helmet strap disconnected so I could take my helmet off. I couldn’t do it. My hands were so cold that I couldn’t get my strap disconnected. Finally I just pulled the strap forward and shimmied underneath it and got my helmet off. Next came the shoes, which I’m hear to tell you, were just as hard to get on with frozen, shaking hands. I was finally able to get my shoes on and headed out on the run. Because the transition area was in a parking lot (thank goodness) all of your gear to start out with was dry. It stayed that way for .2 seconds once you got out from under the parking deck. So, with frozen feet soaking feet I lumbered through a blazing 41:52 1ok. I can’t remember when I ran that slow. My legs felt like someone had poured concrete in them. Trust me when I say I was glad to finish the race and be done. Here’s a couple of running pics and finisher pics for your viewing pleasure:
Overall time was 2:09:40. Not particularly fast but I finished. I did manage to eek out a win in my age group and, I believe was 16th amateur overall.
Cam Dye laid down a blazing fast 1:47:53 for the overall win. Considering the conditions that is amazing! Former Timex team mate Lauren Goss was able to earn her first pro victory on the women’s side in 2:03:55. Way to go Lauren!
All-in-all I had a good time and finished the race unscathed. Next up, Leon’s Triathlon in Hammond, IN. I’ll be representing Tennessee in the Best of the US competition there. I’m just hoping that the weather cooperates a bit more than it did in Knoxville.
Until that time, Train smart, Train safe and Race fast!